baba ganoush

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When you’re a kid and your mom tells you that she’s making eggplant for dinner, you’re less than excited.  I think my common responses were “no, thank you, mom” or “can I have some fettuccine Alfredo instead?”  But as you’ve seen by my previous recipes, like this one for eggplant parm, I’ve grown to love eggplant.  Not only is it so versatile, it’s an incredibly filling vegetable.  I’ll never pass up some filet mignon, but some days, a healthy vegetarian meal is all you need.

Shirley and I grew up eating homemade hummus, tahini, and baba ganoush at home, and I’ve been making it in my own home ever since.  If you’re unfamiliar, baba ganoush is a popular Mediterranean side dish consisting of cooked eggplant and spices.  It is incredibly easy to make, so flavorful, and a great side dish if you’re sick of yet another day of chips and dip!

Baba Ganoush
(Makes 3 cups)

2 medium eggplants
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Bake the eggplants in a 375 F oven until very soft, about 30 minutes.  Allow the eggplant to cool, and then peel completely.

In an 8-cup food processor, combine the eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, and mayonnaise.  Process until the mixture is uniform.  Drizzle in the olive oil and process, being careful not to over-process.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve as a side dish with vegetables, crackers, or pita!

– food on,
Sharon

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Cheese and Garlic Biscuits

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We were lucky enough to receive a gift card to Lobster Gram, a company that delivers live lobster and other super tasty seafood across the country.  I really enjoyed the Lobstergram experience, and I’ll tell you about that soon!  We received lobster tails, many many many lobster claws, and some incredible lobster bisque as part of our package.  To go along with the bisque, I wanted to make some biscuits – reminded of the Red Lobster biscuits that complement seafood anything so well.

I’m not much of a baker – that’s Sharon’s expertise – so I’ve never made biscuits before.  I could not believe how easy and quick they were to make!  They came out moist and rich – just the perfect bite or few to go along with the bisque.

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Cheese and Garlic Biscuits
(makes about 10 biscuits)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tbs butter, at room temperature
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Mix  flour, salt, baking powder and butter together.  Combine with your hands until the butter is well mixed and the mixture is crumbly.  Add the milk and cheese and knead until a dough has formed.  Form dough into small balls, approximately 3 inches in diameter, and place on a greased cookie sheet, pressing down to form a biscuit shape.  The biscuits will bake for a total of approximately 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.

While the biscuits bake, melt remaining butter and mix with garlic.  Pour a teaspoon of butter on each of the biscuits after about 13 minutes of baking, and bake for another 2-3 minutes so the biscuits are shiny and golden.

food on,
-Shirley

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creamy spinach

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For the longest time, I didn’t have an immersion blender in my new apartment.  And when you have such a love for creamy spinach like I do, that’s a real issue.  So as soon as my birthday rolled around, and the “what do you want for your birthday?” talks began, it was only logical for this young lady to request a purple immersion blender.

What’s the big deal about some creamy spinach, you ask?!

Well, this creamy spinach is only the most delicious side dish you could ever have.  Shirley and I grew up with our mom making this dish for us.  I always loved that it felt like a meal in itself.  It wasn’t just a piece of broccoli or asparagus that I got sick of after two pieces.  Heck, I even remember standing over the stovetop with a spoon sneaking bite after bite while my mom yelled at me to move!

This is an easy dish that you will not regret!  Enjoy!

Creamy Spinach
(Makes 6 servings)

2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp salted butter
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup 2% milk (may be substituted with another 1/2 cup of vegetable stock)
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz frozen chopped spinach (or about 24 oz fresh spinach)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheese (Gruyere, Fontina, or Cheddar)
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour until blended in.  Continue to stir on low heat until the mixture is light yellow.  Add the stock, 1/2 tsp salt, and milk in a few batches, stirring after each addition, until a uniform texture is reached.  Keep adding liquid to form a smooth and thick paste.  Remove from heat.

In a large pan, sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until translucent.  Add the spinach and reduce heat.  Let cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the sauce to the spinach and stir well.  With an immersion blender, process the mixture until smooth.  Add the grated cheese and stir well.  Lastly, add the salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste.

– food on,
Sharon

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back to basics: hummus

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With the Jewish New Year having just passed, I’ve been thinking a lot about home.  Growing up along the Mediterranean Sea, hummus and pita was almost always a part of every meal.  Authentic hummus and freshly out of the oven pita is one of the simplest, yet most delicious meals you could ever have.  So since moving to the US, our standards for both have been very high.  Over time, we’ve found that there’s really nothing better than homemade.  There’s just no comparison.

Today we’ll start with the hummus.  Because the truth is, when hummus is this good, you could literally eat it with a spoon.  No cracker, chip, pita, carrot, or bread required (although all will be just fine along with it).  The prep time may seem daunting, but I assure you, the patience will be so worth it once you take that first taste.

Hummus
(Makes 8 cups)

2 cups dry chick peas
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the chick peas in water for 8 hours (or overnight) in a large pot.  Drain.  Add water once again to cover, plus 1 inch, as well as the baking soda.  Mix well.  Cook the chick pea and water mixture on low heat.  Skim off any foam with a spoon.  Continue to cook over low heat for 60 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Drain the water, being sure to reserve the liquid.

In a food processor, combine the drained chick peas with the garlic, and process to a uniform mixture.  Add the tahini and lemon juice and continue to process.  The mixture will become thicker over time.  If you feel that the mixture becomes too thick, add some of the reserved liquid.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with fresh parsley, olive oil, za’atar, and/or pine nuts.  Serve chilled with pita bread, vegetables, pita chips, or crackers!

food on,
Sharon

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baked eggplant fries

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After a brief hiatus, I am back with a wonderful and easy recipe for you.  Eggplant fries.

I know what you’re thinking, because I thought the same thing.  French fries are crispy and delicious and cannot be replaced.  But that could not be further from the truth!  These eggplant fries are flavorful, crispy, and delicious.  And the best part?  100% baked.  Yup.  These are a great alternative to french fries.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, eggplant parmigiana is in our regular dinner rotation.  But there’s weeks when we stare at the eggplant in the fridge and we’re just not feeling a big filling meal.  Since there’s no fancy ingredients required, we can easily switch up the plan and have these fries instead for a light meal.  Served as a snack while you watch a football game, or as a side with dinner, this is a recipe you will not regret saving!

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Eggplant Fries
(Serves 3-4 as a side)

1 eggplant, cut into 3-4″ long matchsticks
1 1/4 cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400 F.  In a single layer, lay the eggplant sticks on a baking sheet that is lined with paper towels.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and let stand for 10-15 minutes.  Pat the sticks dry with the paper towels.  This will help make the eggplant crisp up more when baking.

In a shallow bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, salt, and garlic power.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.

Working a few sticks at a time, dip them into the egg, then to the breadcrumb mixture, and onto the baking sheet.  Be sure that the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, coat the sticks thoroughly.  Once all the eggplant sticks are in a single layer on the baking sheet, bake for 25 minutes, flipping each one halfway through.  Feel free to brush the sticks with a bit of oil prior to baking to make them extra crispy.

– food on,
Sharon

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roasted garlic cauliflower

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I think the wintry temperatures have officially hit south jersey.  The nights have been filled with hot showers, cuddling, blankets, reading, hot tea, and lana del rey playing throughout the house.  The short days don’t do much to help my motivation.  As a result, we’ve been relying on quick, simple, and filling dishes to get us through these first few weeks.  When 50 degrees feels like the coldest thing ever.  I know that sounds ridiculous.  Sharon from 3 months from now is currently laughing out loud at present Sharon.

I made this side dish last week on one of those cold nights.  It’s a easy and healthy dish.  Cauliflower has very high amounts of both vitamin c and vitamin k, and garlic is rich in antioxidants, so your taste buds AND body will be happy.  Win-Win.

So cuddle up with your loved ones on these chilly nights, and eat these cauliflower nuggets like you’re an extra on those hidden valley commercials.

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Roasted Garlic Cauliflower
(Serves 3-4)

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small florets
1/3 cup olive oil
4 heads of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets, oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Ensure that all the florets are evenly coated.

On a sheet pan, spread the florets evenly through the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip the florets, and bake for 15 minutes more.  Serve warm.

– food on,
Sharon

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Easy meatloaf and green beans dinner

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You know those crazy weeks that leave you totally frazzled and all you want to do is get back on track and reset expectations? But that’s just sooo sooo hard?  Instead you say, “tomorrow I’ll work out, cook healthy, and get to bed on time, but for tonight, it’ll be take out and a trashy movie”?  Yea, this was soo me last week.  Justin was away on the west coast and I used it as an opportunity to see some friends out of town and be super duper lazy.

So when life was supposed to return to normal, I struggled like nobody’s business.  This meal was my attempt to get back on track, and it worked.  It was easy enough of a meal to make, and homey enough to be exactly what we needed to get us back on track. It took about 15 minutes of touch time, exactly what I needed.

Easy meatloaf and green beans dinner
(serves 2-3)

For the meatloaf:
1.5 lbs of ground beef, veal, and pork, combined
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbs ketsup
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 jalepano pepper, thinly sliced

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Form meat into a meatloaf shape and place in an oven safe pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes.

For the beans:
3 cups green beans
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili oil
1 tsp soy sauce

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Place green beans in the boiling water, and cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until beans begin to soften.  Remove from heat and drain water.  Place cold water in the pot as to stop the cooking process, then drain.  Add salt, oil, and soy sauce to pot, and mix well.  Serve as a side.

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food on,
– shirley